Cross-language transfer of visual attention span in Chinese-English bilinguals

Cross-language transfer of visual attention span in Chinese-English bilinguals

First Author: Kevin Shing-Chi Chan -- The University of Hong Kong
Additional authors/chairs: 
George K. Georgiou; Pui-sze Yeung
Keywords: Cross-linguistic, Reading fluency, Second Language, visual attention span
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose
Although there is growing evidence for a cross-linguistic transfer in visual attention span (VAS) between alphabetic languages (e.g., Awadh et al., 2016; Lallier, Acha, & Carreiras, 2016), little is known about a cross-linguistic transfer in VAS between non-alphabetic and alphabetic languages. The present study examined the cross-language transfer of VAS and its relationship with reading fluency in Chinese-English bilinguals.
Methods
The participants were 100 Chinese-English bilingual university students in Hong Kong. Each participant was administered three VAS tasks (i.e., global report, partial report, and visual 1-back tasks) in Chinese and English, one VAS task with non-linguistic stimuli (i.e., visual 1-back with symbols), and two reading fluency tasks (i.e., word- and text-reading fluency) in Chinese and English.
Results
There was a high correlation between Chinese and English VAS global report. VAS global report was a significant predictor of both within- and cross-language reading fluency. The results of mediation analysis further showed that the contribution of L1 VAS global report to L2 reading fluency was fully mediated by the L2 VAS global report. However, L1 VAS global report was not a significant mediator between the L2 VAS global report and L1 reading fluency.
Conclusions
The strong correlation between the Chinese and English VAS global report provides evidence for a cross-language transfer of VAS between non-alphabetic and alphabetic languages. This suggests that even when individuals read in two typologically distinct orthographies, they can benefit from their L1 VAS to support their L2 reading fluency.